Treadmills or Elliptical Machines Which is Better?

Exercisers are often confused as to which of these two pieces of equipment is best to buy or use at the gym. I’ll go over some of the advantages and disadvantages of both and explain why under certain circumstances one is better than the other for aerobic exercise.


Ellipticals are good for people with joint issues like arthritis and degenerative disc disease. They are also good for people who overweight or obese that have difficulty running. On this machine you don’t get in impact workout like running because your legs travel in a circular motion. This is good for people with joint problems because they won’t get that jarring impact from running that causes pain. Overweight and obese people generally have difficulty running for long periods of time because they are so heavy that it hurts their knees joints, ankle joints, and back. Elliptical machines allow obese people to do aerobic workouts longer without so much joint pain.

Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical trainers are great, but they have several disadvantages over treadmills. Firstly, since they don’t provide a impact workout, they cannot strengthen bone as much as treadmills do. For younger healthier populations, it is important to strengthen bone as much as possible so they will be strong later in life when bone density naturally decreases.  Secondly, the maximum intensity for an elliptical is less than for a treadmill. Depending on the model of elliptical, you can only increase resistance to a certain point. You can only increase the resistance since your speed is determined by your step rate. Your weight makes the steps move, so it’s somewhat dependent on your weight as well and how fast you can push down on each step.


For the most intense workout, go with a treadmill. You can adjust them for a wide range of intensities. With a treadmill, you can adjust two things: speed and grade. Speed is usually measured in miles per hour or minutes per mile. Grade is the angle of the belt you walk or run on. You increase the grade to mimic running uphill. Many good quality treadmills can be adjusted up to around 12 percent or more, and you can create an extremely intense workout by increasing speed and grade. In the lab, researchers use treadmills to measure a person’s maximal oxygen update because you can reach maximum exertion with a treadmill.

ProForm 0-15% Grade Treadmill

A treadmill like the one above is a great choice. When buying look at the percent grade, speed rating, and overall size. Some cheaper treadmills have a narrow belt, and it’s much easier to work out on a larger one. If you look under the category of “commercial treadmills” you can find some great ones. Commercial models are much more robust, and they are the type found in gyms. Some of them are also not that much more expensive and they just work better. If you’re serious about working out, a treadmill or elliptical is a good investment. If your paying a gym membership, the money you would save by buying your own equipment would more than pay for it all and then some.


Which piece of equipment is better? It all depends on your needs, you should probably buy whichever you think you’ll get a better workout on based on your current health condition. I encourage you to get a trial membership to a gym and test out the ellipticals and treadmills to see which one you like better. You can then go purchase the right piece of equipment for you and workout in the comfort of your own home.

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